My Turn: For students’ sake, sign this gun legislation

For the Monitor
Published: 8/7/2019 8:00:24 AM

I can remember every active shooter training I’ve participated in to prepare me and my classmates for the possibility that we, like so many other students, will have to know what to do if someone with a gun comes into our school.

During our drills, police officers would blast horns to simulate the sound of gunshots while my classmates and I practice barricading the doors with desks, or climbing out of windows to run to safety. At the end of these drills, our teachers always tell us that if we have the chance, we should run as fast as we can, and as far away as we can.

It used to be unthinkable that these incidents would ever happen in New Hampshire – in my hometown – but after shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, then Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, then Santa Fe High School and countless more, it now almost seems inevitable.

Every time we have an active shooter training, or see another tragedy on the news, it breaks mine and my classmates’ hearts, because we are reminded that we aren’t even safe in our own classrooms. The grim reality of school shootings in our country is why I am asking Gov. Chris Sununu to sign House Bill 564 – a common-sense policy that would simply ban guns from schools.

First, New Hampshire is way behind when it comes to legislation to prevent school shootings. Forty-seven states already have laws in place that prohibit firearms from being near elementary, middle and high schools, and more than a quarter of U.S. states have basic common-sense laws like requiring a background check for people who want to buy guns. It is past time for New Hampshire to do the same. Gun violence is not just a partisan issue; for young people, this is a life-or-death issue. Common-sense gun laws can decide whether we get to see our parents at the bus stop after school, or if our school becomes a monument for yet another senseless gun tragedy.

Second, “thoughts and prayers” are not enough to prevent more senseless tragedies from happening, Governor. Even though New Hampshire has not yet experienced a school shooting, this bill is one step closer to making sure we will never have to. If Gov. Sununu vetoes this bill, he is telling me, my classmates and my teachers that our lives aren’t as important as his campaign contributors, which include lobbyists like the National Rifle Association.

Finally, if New Hampshire students have the courage to go into their classrooms every single day, not knowing if we will come out, we can only hope that Gov. Sununu will also be brave and sign this bill into law. That he can stand up to his campaign contributors and the gun lobby special interests. That he won’t be swayed by the Republican Party’s head-in-the-sand politics on this issue. That he will realize that New Hampshire children aren’t political pawns. And that he puts our safety above his own politics.

Yes, we have been lucky that we have not had to experience the same devastation as students at Sandy Hook or Marjory Stoneman Douglas, but lucky will not prevent those tragedies from happening in New Hampshire, just like “thoughts and prayers” will not bring back the children who were killed simply because they went to school.

This week, when Gov. Sununu decides whether to stand up for students or shill for gun lobbyists, we will be watching. When he decides whether to sign a bill that could save lives or veto it to satisfy the gun lobby, we will be watching. I’m only 15 years old now, but I still have a voice. Someday I’ll have a vote – and I will be watching.

(Akanksha Vasireddy is a student at Nashua High School South.)

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